Effects of Cold Winter on Niagara Wine Country Unclear

Friday, March 13

The Toronto Star
Paul Hunter 

Winemakers in Ontario's Niagara region won't know until summer how much the record cold this winter has affected their grapevines.

At the low end, the numbers coming in are as stark as the cold that settled across many of the area’s sub-regions or “sub-appellations.” In Creek Shores, there is an 18-per-cent survival of Pinot Noir grapes. In Short Hills Bench, 16 per cent of the Sauvignon Blanc variety made it through the cold. The institute’s preliminary surveys are showing 10-per-cent survival of Chardonnay grapes on Vinemount Ridge. Even Riesling, one of the hardier varieties, has counts of 25 per cent in Creek Shores.

Fortunately for the industry and the consumer, those numbers — a snapshot of the damage winter has wrought — are strictly an educational tool to help growers oversee their vineyards. Through techniques such as pruning, vine management and the use of wind machines, those survival rates do not necessarily correlate to the crop produced.

“It’s a bit too early to sound the death knell,” wrote Michele Bosc, marketing director at Château des Charmes, in a Facebook post. “No doubt it is nail-biting. But so many factors will determine how the vines fare … Keep your fingers crossed but don’t count us out yet.”

Winter Vines

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